Thursday, September 7, 2017

Creative Nonfiction Part One: The Myth, The Legend...The Genre

Writers of Kern strives for one thing above all else, helping writers—no matter their skill level—achieve their literary goals. In that vein, we’ve selected Creative Nonfiction as the official genre of the 2017 Fall Writing Contest.

Creative Nonfiction is the sugar in our diet, springing up in our newsfeed, movies and coffee tables. It touches everything. We don’t realize how much we’re consuming. Even after a professional highlights our addiction, we toss caution to the wind, devouring more.

Quite simply Creative Nonfiction are true stories well told. It can be an essay, journal article, research paper, memoir, poem or dare I say, tweet? We crave humanity, the villain and the champion. We want truth—but we want it with a pretty bow. Preferably gray instead of black and white.

Creative doesn’t mean fiction, it means literary. Think Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken or Jeannette Walls’s The Glass Castle. Both true stories. Both filled to the brim with facts. And both brought us to tears.

The goal is to make nonfiction stories read like fiction so that your readers are as enthralled by facts as they are by fantasy.

Join me for Creative Nonfiction Part Two, Memoir vs Literary Journalism

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Price of Membership

Right now, at this lovely minute you can log onto Writer’s Digest and pay over $200 for an honest, third party critique. I, myself, charge anywhere from $350 to $650 depending on the project. 

When you join Writers of Kern, we charge nothing for critique groups. 
We agonize over our groups. We spend countless hours brainstorming on how to serve our members. We randomly audit and moderate between writers. Twice a year we meet with critique leaders to maintain the caliber of our groups. 

 All of this comes at no cost to you. Never at any time as our membership been worth more. don't have to be local to be a member. We offer online critique groups and workshops.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Upcoming Book Reviews

Twice a month I will post/review an unpublished or self-published book. 
If you'd like your book to be added to the list (or have a recommendation) send me a message.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dear Dan

Dear Dan,

I've been driving around, not knowing what to do. I keep hoping for the miracle, for the phone call that all is right. But you're gone. And the world's a little dimmer.

I'm struggling with the bitter taste of jealous. I only had a few years. I needed more time. So much more time.

You've left a mark, one that's changed my life. You were sent to me, to show me another way. No one else could have wrapped an arm around my shoulder and turned my perspective. Being different wasn't a curse.

You gathered my children and Damon into your embrace, welcoming them to your world of music but it wasn't the symphony that touched their hearts.

It was how you touched mine.

Kindness has a far-reaching, ripple effect. Your acceptance and love changed me, changed my family and changed the community beyond.

I'm scared to battle my illness with one less soldier at my side. You taught me, you showed me how to be a parent, how to love and accept a child who's sick.

It's frightening, in a stigma-filled world, to be without you. You gave me courage to write "the other book." I haven't touched it in weeks. I have your last notes on my desk. It's the last time I'll feel your encouragement. It's the last time I'll read your confidence in me.

I miss you. I'd hoped writing would lessen the pain but it only reminds me of the emptiness. I miss you, I miss you something fierce.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I'm here!

I love you all (clients, friends and critique groups) but I also have a looming deadline. I've turned down an indie publisher and am following an editor's suggestion of adding 30,000 words.
I am still sneaking in work for clients and coordinating critique groups (and let's not forget, helping my daughter with her quest to dominate the lipstick world).

June will slow down and I'll be back (I promise!)


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Get your writing engines ready...

Center for Documentary Studies
Fiction & Poetry
Deadline: May 15, 2017
Entry Fee: $65
Prize: $10,000

Poetry, Fiction & Creative Nonfiction
Deadline: May 15, 2017
Entry Fee: $24
Prize: $2,000

Del Sol Press: First Novel Competition
Fiction (Novel)
Deadline: May 15, 2017
Entry Fee: $30
Prize: $1,500

One 3 Press
Creative Nonfiction
Deadline: May 15, 2017
Enry Fee: $25
Prize: $1,000

Writer's Digest
Poetry, Fiction & Creative Nonfiction
Deadline: June 1, 2017
Entry Fee: $30
Prize: $5,000

New American Press
Deadline: June 15, 2017
Entry Fee: $25
Prize: $1,000

Hidden River Arts
Short Story & Fiction
Deadline: June 30, 2017
Entry Fee: $17
Prize: $1,000

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Countdown to $100 Amazon Gift Card

It’s not too late to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card. This is for everyone who has a book in progress or ready to be published. Nothing centers a story like your pitch. It doesn’t have to be polished to a shine (that’s what we’re here for).

To join, email with your name and the date you’d like to join the online session (April 12th at 7 p.m. or April 13th at 7 p.m.). 

Each session will be recorded and available to download. You must register to get the access code for these sessions. You do not have to attend the live feed (they will be recorded for your convenience).

 This is a free service for all Writers of Kern members. If you’re not a current member you’ll be sent an invoice for $25 that can be applied to your future membership.

Winner will be drawn April 14th and recorded for all participants.

Good luck and happy pitching!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Pitch Perfect Critique Camp

The heart of your story, the hook of the reader boils down to the pitch. Whether you're readying for the arduous task of querying or finishing that novel—you’ll need an iron clad pitch. It’s the foundation of a manuscript and the skeleton of the characters.

At Writers of Kern, we’ll do more than help outline its importance, we’ll show you. Join our online Pitch Perfect Critique Camp

Choose one of the following live sessions and put your name in the ring for a $100 Amazon Gift Card as the Pitch Perfect Critique Camp Winner.

The winner will be announced on April 14th in a live video (explaining how and why the winning pitch was chosen).

1) Must have current CWC/WOK membership (or pay $25 entry fee)
2) Must have access to a computer/camera for the interactive sessions
3) Must have access to WORD or PDF
4) Register via

April 12th (Wednesday) 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.
April 13th (Thursday) 7 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Please note: You do not need to attend a session to participate in the drawing (the sessions allow for critiques, pointers and suggestions). However, you will still need to have an active membership or entry fee.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Contests and Competitions

Image result for contests image

Wergle Flomp Humor (Poetry)
Deadline: April 1, 2017
Entry Fee: $0
Prizes: $100-$1,000
More Info

Fish Publishing (Flash Fiction)
Deadline: 2/28/2017
Entry Fee: $15
Cash Prize: $1,090
More Info

James Jones Literary Society (Novel)
Deadline: March 15, 2017
Entry Fee: $30
Cash Prize: $10,000
More Info

Red Hen Press
Women's Prose Prize (fiction or nonfiction)
Deadline: 2/28/2017
Entry Fee: $25
Cash Prize: $1,000
More Info

Association of Writers & Writing Programs
Award Series (novel, poetry, creative non fiction)
Deadline: 2/28/2017
Entry Fee: $30
Cash Prize: $5,500
More Info

Fabulous Five Contest (fiction, romance)
Deadline: March 1, 2017
Entry Fee: $18-25
Prize: Agent and Editor Intro
More Info

Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation (poetry)
Deadline: March 15, 2017
Entry Fee: $10
Cash Prize: $1,000
More Info

Ghost Story
Supernational Fiction Award
Deadline: 4/30/17
Entry Fee: $20
Cash Prize: $1,000
More Info

Monday, February 20, 2017

Not Doing It All

Two days ago I sat in our monthly Writers of Kern meeting, I'd snuck in just before it started and after a quick phone call from the babysitter, was back out before the meeting was over. Before I left, one of our members asked how I managed three young children and a writing career (career is a loose term, yes?). She wanted to know how I did it all.

Here's my answer (drumroll)...

I don't. I'm not even close to doing it all.

My husband is a trauma rep (meaning he's on call 24/7) and I have three kids with piano, violin, cello and competitive gymnastics. This doesn't include our GATE programs or volunteer projects. And let's not forget school activities.

None of the above include my own obligations to the local school district, my editing clients, our semiannual Girls Only Ragnar trip and my position as Critique Group Coordinator for Writers of Kern.

I had two Writers of Kern obligations in one week but with my daughter busting her leg and a babysitter needing to bail, I missed one completely and left halfway into another. And let's not forget rebuilding a fence that fell over in our recent storm.

Plain and simple, I physically and quite literally can not do it all. 

But I sure as hell can try.

When you're drowning in to-do lists and skipping from one event to another, writing feels like an impossible task. Editing isn't even a thought. You want to beat your fists against the keyboard you just sat down to tackle, only to realize your parents are at your door. Or your dog just vomited on your feet. Or the school called, you forgot to pick up your kid. Or your thirty-year-old is moving back in.

You could fold and walk away or you could give what you have. No one can do it all. We're not supposed to do it all. It absolutely takes a village.

Thankfully, I have a safety net with a supportive husband, understanding (for the most part) kids and the best board of all time at Writers of Kern.

There are going to be days where you punch out only a sentence. And then there will be days you get a paragraph. But one word is better than no word.

You can't do it all. But you sure as hell can try.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Critique Group Openings

We are currently revamping our critique groups, both online and in person. 
As a professional writers organization, we offer complimentary critique groups for our members.
For more information please email or fill out a critique questionnaire.

For those not ready to commit, we do offer a two-week critique camp.
For more information please contact us (dates to come).

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Contests and Competitions

Take a risk and show your literary muscle...

Nelson Algren Literary Short Story Awards
Deadline: Jan 31, 2017
Prize: $3,500
More Info

39 Signs of Hope Short Story
Deadline: Jan 31, 2017
Prize: $300
More Info

New Millennium Writings (poetry, creative nonfiction, short story)
Deadline: Jan 31, 2017
Prize: $1,000
More Info

Crazyhorse Literary Prizes (poetry, short story, essay)
Deadline: Jan 31, 2017
Prize: $2,000
More Info

Writers at Work Writing Competition
Deadline: Jan 31, 2017
Prize: $1,000
More Info

Virginia Commonwealth University Levis Reading Prize (Poetry)
Deadline: Feb 1, 2017
Prize: $5,000 (and all expense paid trip)
More Info

University of Wisconsin
Institute for Creative Writing
Deadline: Feb 1, 2017
Prize: $30,000
More Info

American Short(er) Fiction
Deadline: Feb 1,2017
Prize: $1,000
More Info

Red Hen Press (Women's Prose)
Deadline: Feb 28, 2017
Prize: $1,000
More Info

James Jones Literary Society First Novel Fellowship
Deadline: March 15, 2017
Prize: $10,000
More Info

Great Beginnings (Romance Fiction)
Deadline: Feb 14, 2017
Prize: One on One Agent Review
More Info

Thursday, January 5, 2017

This Is Our Year

2016 changed the literary landscape and put critique groups on the map. The publishing world cheered with unprecedented support for critique groups and the organizations that embraced them. Writers of Kern was perched on the forefront of this publishing trend—elevating our little group on a national level.

 But 2017 is the year our members will be elevated. Once a month I will post both local and national contests, adding a bit of shine to each of our resumes. This is the year we—you—me will be published, whether it’s your short story, your poetry or your novel, 2017 is our year.